Calls for opposition Moderate leader to be replaced before 2018 Swedish election: reports

Strong voices within Sweden's centre-right opposition Moderate party are calling for leader Anna Kinberg Batra to be replaced before the 2018 election, according to reports in two Swedish newspapers.

Calls for opposition Moderate leader to be replaced before 2018 Swedish election: reports
Moderate leader Anna Kinberg Batra. Photo: Maja Suslin/TT

Dagens Industri reports that the internal Moderate criticism of Kinberg Batra is strongest in the Stockholm region, where many in leading positions want the opposition head to resign, and may even make a request for her to do so in the coming days.

Expressen also cites sources making similar claims.

“Kinberg Batra is going to go up in smoke. The frustration is too great, leadership weakened and the local councils are irritated. She'll go before the election,” a source told the tabloid.

READ ALSO: Could crisis in the opposition bring a new political climate in Sweden?

Much of the criticism is to do with the party leader and leadership's communication, according to an anonymous Moderate MP Expressen spoke to:

“The party leadership's message is confused and conflicting.”

The Moderates have been polling poorly in recent months, and Kinberg Batra has clashed with other party heads within the centre-right Alliance coalition, in particular over their stance on the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats.

A poll carried out by Ipsos for Dagens Nyheter published last week had the Moderates at 15 percent. According to Expressen, the calls for Kinberg Batra to leave come in the wake of the party's analysis head Per Nilsson informing their Riksdag leaders of horror results in a new SCB poll due to be published on Thursday, where they could have dropped to as low at 14.5 percent.

The November edition of the same poll had the Moderates at 22.8 percent, while in the 2014 Riksdag election they took 23.33 percent of the vote.

READ ALSO: How significant is Moderate MP's defection to Sweden Democrats?


Sweden’s right-wing parties agree to bring back Norlén as Speaker 

The four parties backing Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson as prime minister on Sunday announced that they had agreed to keep the current Speaker, Andreas Norlén in place, when the role is put to a vote as parliament opens on Monday.

Sweden's right-wing parties agree to bring back Norlén as Speaker 

The parties won a three-seat majority over the bloc led by the incumbent Social Democrats in Sweden’s general election on September 11th, and are currently in the middle of negotiating how they will form Sweden’s next government. 

Sweden’s parliament meets at 11am for the official installation of the 349 MPs for this mandate period. The votes for the Speaker and three Deputy Speakers are the first item on the agenda, after which the parties each select their parliamentary leaders and then vote on who should chair each of the parliamentary committees. 

READ ALSO: What happens next as parliament reopens? 

In a joint press release announcing the decision, the parties also agreed that the Sweden Democrats would be given eight of the 16 chairmanships the bloc will have of parliamentary committees in the next parliament, and that MPs for all four parties would back Julia Kronlid, the Sweden Democrats’ Second Deputy Leader, as the second deputy Speaker, serving under Norlén. 

In the press release, the parties said that Norlén had over the last four years shown that he has “the necessary personal qualities and qualifications which the role requires”. 

The decision to retain Norlén, who presided over the 134 days of talks and parliamentary votes that led to the January Agreement in 2019, was praised by Social Democrat leader Magdalena Andersson. 

Norlén, she said in a statement, had “managed his responsibilities well over the past four years and been a good representative of Sweden’s Riksdag.” 

The decision to appoint Kronlid was opposed by both the Left Party and the Green Party, who said that she supported tightening abortion legislation, and did not believe in evolution.

The Green Party’s joint leader Märta Stenevi said that her party “did not have confidence in Julia Kronlid”, pointing to an interview she gave in 2014 when she said she did not believe that humans were descended from apes.

The party has proposed its finance spokesperson Janine Alm Ericson as a rival candidate. 

The Left Party said it was planning to vote for the Centre Party’s candidate for the post second deputy Speaker in the hope of blocking Kronlid as a candidate.